Here is a simple recipe for every believer in our daily lives:
‘But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.’ Jude 1:20-21 KJV
From that personal life of devotion and fellowship with the Lord should flow the desire to be able to bless our brothers and sisters...
‘I myself feel confident about you, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another.’ Romans 15:14 NRSV
‘Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.’ 1 Peter 4:10 NRSV
‘If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.’ 1 Peter 4:11 KJV
‘The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.’ Ephesians 4:11-16 NRSV
Please continue to ponder and meditate upon these scriptures because the whole point of our gathering together is to seek to practice and obey the clear teaching of the Word of God. The reality is that opportunities to submit ourselves to and obey the Word in this regard are few and far between. If you genuinely love the Lord you will want to practice and obey His Word –in every possible respect. Opportunities to participate and practice organised, institutional forms of religious observance abound on every hand. You can go to just about any ‘church’ and sit in rows, look at the back of someone’s head, be entertained by a group of professional entertainers and be lectured by one individual from behind a pulpit with no opportunity to actually contribute or participate in any meaningful manner for fear of interrupting the ‘order of worship’. What we are attempting to do in these simple gatherings of the Lord’s people is to do what the Reformation failed to do –bring us back to the simple observance of ‘face-to-face fellowship’ as is so clearly modeled for us in the New Testament.
Let us all seek to allow the Holy Spirit to use each one of us to encourage and edify and bless our brothers and sisters as we gather again this Sunday. We need one another -desperately. What we do not need is an ‘order of service’, or a ‘liturgy’ as practiced by traditional religion. It’s interesting, but synonyms for ‘liturgy’ offered by one online dictionary are: ‘ritual, service, ceremony, rite, observance, ordinance, office, sacrament, solemnity, ceremonial’. It may be a good Baptist liturgy, a good Presbyterian liturgy, a good Anglican liturgy, or a good Pentecostal liturgy but, whatever the brand, it is still a humanistic ‘ceremony’ or ‘rite’ that seeks to regulate and control what I believe the Lord Jesus clearly indicates He earnestly desires to inspire by the Holy Spirit through the corporate, willing, and voluntary participation of every ‘ligament’, or ‘member’ of the body.
‘…the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.’ 1 Cor 12:21 KJV
We desperately ‘need’ each and every member of the body. Let us honour and respect the presence of the Lord Jesus in the heart and life of every believer. Come and join our ‘extended conversation’ as we seek to hear from the Lord through the lips of our brothers and sisters this Sunday.